Monday, October 31, 2005

Bush Pulls Out the Big Scare for Halloween

President Bush's newest Supreme Court pick, Samuel Alito, is already garnering harsh criticism from Senate Democrats. Although there is no doubt that Alito's record as a judge certainly means he has better credentials than former nominee Harriet Miers, the nomination is terrifying for Democrats. Take the following for example:

In a 1991 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito, in a dissenting opinion, wrote that women who wish to have an abortion must notify their spouse. Hypothetically speaking, what if a woman is in an abusive relationship? Should she have to inform her husband of her desire for an abortion, and therby possibly put herself at risk for further abuse?

Alito also voted against upholding The Brady Bill, which would ban fully automatic machine guns. What good are these assault weapons? America is already overrun by immense amounts of guns, must we keep the fully automatic machine guns as well?

What may be even more frightening is the fact that Alito has often been compared to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. He has even been given the nickname "Scalito" (also see Zach Corey's post and links about this comparison).

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid released a statement this morning that suggested Alito may be "too radical for the American people." While Alito may uphold the views of a few on the far right, his job, if nominated to the Supreme Court is to uphold the Constitution, not a few moral values. I think that so many people have forgotten the true role of the court.

The court is not here to uphold the values of a few, they are in place to interpret the law. Maybe we need a nationwide lesson on the role of the government.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bye Bye Miers

President Bush withdrew the nomination of Harriet Miers today, but I think it its too early for right-wing nut jobs such as my friends over at GOP3.com to start celebrating. The Miers nomination, as stated by many, was flawed on two fronts: her lack of a true conservative paper trail and her lack of legal credentials. So to say that the "right-wing won", is giving yourself too much credit. In fact I think that President Bush's next nominee is going to be in for an even tougher battle as evidenced by the lack of trust shown by even the conservative powerlineblog:

A lot of conservative pundits are feeling triumphant today, but there are millions of rank and file Republicans who supported the Miers nomination, many of whom--including many dyed in the wool conservatives--believed, rightly or wrongly, that the criticism of Miers from the right was arrogant and elitist. Miers was a poor choice for a number of reasons, not least because her nomination needlessly divided the party.

There are lots of sighs of relief this morning, and understandably so; but they're premature, I think. Who knows who the next nominee might be? The beginning of the Miers problem was that President Bush committed to naming a woman before he had a woman lined up for the job. We know that he chose Miers only after "several" women turned him down. We don't know how many said no, or who they were; so at this point, no one knows who is left in the "woman" pool. I really hope that at this point, Bush forgets about diversity and nominates the best person for the job. But is there any reason to assume that he will do so?

The problem that the powerlineblog shows is that the right-wing will not blindly trust President Bush's word on the "conservativeness" of the next nominee--they will want answers. Thus the next nominee will probably come under fire from both Republicans and Democrats, as they will both press the nominee to answer questions that Roberts was able to avoid answering. One thing for sue is that the next confirmation hearing will likely be must see TV.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Is There an End in Sight?

Today marks death number 2,000 for U.S. troops in Iraq. It is not a huge number by any standard of war, but realize that those are 2,000 men and women, all who had families. They were sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives. It is so easy to dismiss these deaths if you are not impacted by them directly, but to do so only confirms Joseph Stalin's immortal quote that "one death is a tragedy, a million are a statistic." President Bush warned today that more troops will be killed in Iraq. More families will have to deal with the fact that their loved ones may not come home.

A new poll shows that for the first time since the war began, the majority of Americans (currently around 53%) believe that bringing the troops home safely is more important than ensuring the democratization of Iraq.

After many conversations with a good friend of mine who is currently serving in Tal-Afar, Iraq, I strongly believe that pulling out of Iraq as quickly as possible is in our best interest, (and more specifically, in the troops' best interest). My friend has been exposed to horrors that can never be captured by the media; no photos, video, or words will ever be able to describe what he will constantly see in his mind. Even though I am hopeful that my friend will come back alive, I know that he will still be dead in many ways. His old self, a joyful, vibrant teenager, will have been replaced by a scared, calloused man I have never met.

While I believe that great strides are being made in Iraq, I fear that there is no time table to bring our troops home; even Condoleezza Rice, in testimony before Congress last week, could not speculate as to whether US troops would still be needed in Iraq a decade from now. Ten years more?! We can do better. There must be a definitive plan to relinquish control of the country to the Iraqi forces. Even more alarming is the speculation that our next target(s) could be Syria or Iran. We need to recover from this war before playing the big bully of the world again.

With a mounting death toll in Iraq and dwindling public support for the war, President Bush must think of a new message besides the increasingly stale "stay the course". President Bush got us into Iraq, and yet it will most likely be another president's legacy to get us out. It is a shame that the President made such immense decisions without realizing the conesequences of his actions.

I am glad Saddam is out of power, but at what cost?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Feingold and Bayh Say No to Pork

Senators Russ Feingold and Evan Bayh get a lot of love here at 1832 as Zach Corey interned for Feingold's Senate re-elect in 2004, and I interned for Bayh's All America PAC in Washington, DC this past summer. Yesterday, both of these fine "middle America" Senators proved not only why they are loved but the 1832 blog staff, but why they are loved in their respective states, and also show why both will make excellent candidates for President of the United States. So what exactly did they do? As Zach Corey would say (and my Feingold 2004 t-shirt shows on the back), they both have backbone.

Yesterday these Senators from Wisconsin and Indiana stood up and joined only 13 other Senators in saying, "no to spending tax-payer money on bridges to nowhere, pet projects, and pork!"

Senators Feingold and Bayh were the only 2008 Dem potentials that voted for Republican Senator Tom Coburn's amendment that would have removed $125 million of pork out of the federal highways bill to be used to pay for the repairs need to fix the Twin Spans Bridge that crossed over Lake Pontchartrian, which had sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Katrina. Sadly, the so called "conservative" candidates for President in 2008 were almost a complete no show on this bill with Senators Frist, Hagel and Brownback all voting for pork and against the amendment (Senator McCain did not vote and Allen was the only one to vote for it).

But who can blame them? I mean they were just following the example of President Bush. I'm sure they said, "if he can give personal favors to his friends, why can't we? If he says we can pay for Katrina, the War in Iraq, and everything else under the sun without really trying to balance the budget, can't we say the same thing? If President Bush can say and do all of that, and still be labeled "fiscally conservative", we can still call ourselves that too, right?"

If that's your definition of "fiscally conservative" sure call yourselves that, just don't call yourself "fiscally responsible" that term is reserved for Democratic Senators Bayh, Feingold and Conrad (Landrieu can't be counted in this because she has an obvious interest other than fiscal responsibility), and the 11 Republican Senators that voted for this amendment.

The amendment and thus the call for fiscal responsibility failed 15-82.

(Yes I am aware of the large number of Democrats that voted against this too)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lots of Changes Coming

1832 Readers-

Over fall break 1832 will make changes to our blogspot template and add additional features. Please leave comments on this thread as to what you like, what you don't like, and what you would like to see us add.

The 1832 Blog Staff

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Costly Mistakes

I was greatly distressed when I opened the Chicago Tribune and read an article about an upcoming execution in Virigina. Death Row inmate Robin Lovett is scheduled to be executed in just over a month, despite the fact that critical DNA evidence was destroyed by a county clerk because apparently the box containing Mr. Lovett's case files, including the DNA evidence "had been taking up too much space in a courthouse storage room." Although I believe that in many matters the American justice system is one of great merit, its weaknesses are evident in dozens of capital punishment cases just like this one.

I believe that as a citizen of the United States, Robin Lovett ought to have been afforded a fair trial and appeals process, but unfortunately justice has not been served in this case. High profile attorney Kenneth Starr commented that "despite the lower court's casual assurance that here 'the system worked as it should,' constitutional errors have infected every stage of the proceedings."

This is not a small matter. This is a life. It does not matter if I believe he is guilty or not, he still deserves to have every aspect of his case scrutnized before the state kills him, but this is a right that he will not be afforded.

This is only one instance in a long list of problems that have plagued this country's capital punishment system. Incompetent legal counsel, improper jury instructions, poor evidence and many other issues are some of the main reasons I believe we ought to reexamine our policy of capital punishment. I also don't believe in state sanctioned murder (yes, murder. the cause of death listed on a executed prisoner's death certificate is murder, kind of ironic if you ask me). But apart from my own moral values and my views on the sancity of life and judgment, strong evidence shows that capital punishment is extremely costly (more so than keeping someone alive in prison for the rest of their natural life), it is sentenced to far more poor people than rich people (due to the inability of the poor to afford good legal counsel), and there is no scientific proof that capital punishment significantly deters future crime.

Please don't think that I am pro-criminal. I am not. I just believe that there are more efficient and less costly methods for handling the deviants in society than killing them.

Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, one of the justices responsible for the reinstatement of the U.S. death penalty in 1976, realized the immense ramifications of his decision and wrote in the 1994 decision of Callins v. Collins that he would "no longer tinker with the machinery of death."

How did we become a society that specializes in death?

New Category: Humor and Politics! Our first entry: Become a Republican!

I don't know why we haven't done this at 1832 before, but I was sent this today and it is not only funny, but is funny because its true! Tired of losing elections my fellow democrats? Well why don't you become a republican! I did!

Become a Republican

just kidding about me actually becoming a republican, but you should click the link, its good stuff! When you are done be sure to send it to all your democrat friends and even send it to any republicans you know.... I'm sure it will get their blood boiling! (amazing how they either can't take the truth or a joke).

Reason #103912 Why I Hate Notre Dame

As Sam notes in his post, I believe that the recent SC v. ND game was easily the game of the decade, and could possibly be the game of several recent decades combined (maybe if I was born earlier I would know this for sure). However, that being said, just because it was a good game doesn't mean I have to like Notre Dame.

In fact, if anything, I hate Notre Dame more now than ever, and it is not because I go to Marquette and my older brother went to SC, it is because of some of the dirty tactics that Notre Dame and its Jabba the Hut head coach used that were not nearly as innocent as trotting out in luck-of-the-irish-shamrock-green jerseys> Perhaps, most notably, would be Jabba's decision to grow the grass "Touchdown Jesus" watches over, ridiculously high in a feeble and dangerous attempt to give the Notre Dame even more of a home field advantage.

One might ask, "How would that give Notre Dame an advantage?" and"What is wrong with giving yourself a home-field advantage by doing so?"

Glad you asked.

Why do it? In theory, when a home team is faced with superior athletes who are faster than the ones you have you can "slow them down" by making changes to the playing surface, one of them being letting the grass grow longer without cutting it (another example could be watering the field excessively before a game as well), because thick, tall grass slows runners down as it creates more friction (hence why track runners run on a dirt/clay/rubber track rather than on grass at all). In addition, taller grass can make cutting and juking more difficult as it creates an uneven playing surface (more on this in a minute) that may cause difficulty in getting the footing required to make say a juke move. Also, offenses depend on timing, and if a QB and his receivers are used to routes taking X amount of time on a certain surface, a surface that sets out to slow receivers down can disrupt that timing. Lastly, longer than normal grass can have purely a mental effect on unsuspecting players, as they know or at least believe the grass could have an effect on their "normal" game, leading an athlete to over compensate.

I'm not saying that any of the above actually happened in the SC v. ND game or that SC would have killed ND if the grass was cut shorter, the above is just me stating why it is done (similar things have also been done to slow down base runners in Major League Baseball).

Next question:

Why is this bad?
1) You slow down your own, already slower, less athletic players, so that sort of negates the purpose (unless it is to throw off timing or for psychological effect). 2) Most importantly, longer grass creates an uneven playing surface because not all blades and patches of grass grow at the same rate, when you cut the grass, you cut it so that all of the blades and all of the patches are the same length. So why does this matter? Simple. Running and cutting on an uneven playing surface increases the likelihood of injury and I think it could be argued that the long grass contributed to Desmond Reed's probably season-ending injury (one of SC's kick return men) and that it could have also contributed to two injuries to Notre Dame lineman. If I'm Reed and the ND linemen I'd sue the Jesus out of Notre Dame if it can be proved that they let the grass grow out of the desire to gain an additional home-field advantage with complete disregard for player safety. Knee injuries not only can end a players season, but could also end a player's career in the NFL before it even could get started.

One question still remains.... Why do you care? USC won, ND lost, isn't that good enough for you?

Yes I am happy SC won and ND lost, and I'll admit ND is a much better team than I thought and SC was lucky to come out of South Bend with a win, but here at 1832, we believe in the truth, and yesterday during a Notre Dame press conference, Jabba the Hut was asked about the grass and he asserted that the grass was the same length for the SC game as it was for the MSU game a few weeks ago (note in order to view the press conference footage you need a premium rivals pass, which I cant give out, I will post a link to a free transcript when/if it is made available). Oh really Jabba?

These pictures seem to tell a different story:

The first photo is taken from the SC v. ND game and notice how the Notre Dame player's right foot is barely visible, now look at grass length in the second picture from the MSU v. ND game, the grass in the first picture is clearly longer.

Notice to Jabba: You had 45,000 fans at a pep rally the night before with Joe Montana and "Rudy", you had a sold out stadium, you had two weeks to prepare for this game, and you even brought out the luck-of-the-irish-shamrock-green jerseys. I think you had all the home-field advantages you could want or ask for.

Growing grass to this length was pointless, stupid, and potentially dangerous, which causes me not to respect Notre Dame or Jabba the Hut.

Oh and Notre Dame fans, don't even bother commenting on the spot of the fumble, the timeout outs that SC called when they had none, or Bush's push into Leinart, I can rebut all of them and the regardless of any of them, I'm pretty sure the game would have ended in the same result with a SC victory and a ND lose.

Update: Below are links to photo galleries of the MSU v. ND game and SC v. ND game... in all the pictures the grass appears to be much longer (and certainly more uneven) in the SC v. ND photos. I have also posted links to some newspaper accounts that agree with my story.

MSU v. ND photo gallery
SC v. ND photo gallery

Star-Telegram in Texas (they have no reason to side with SC, Texas wanted SC to lose this game, as evidence by a state by state Sportsnation poll that was on ESPN before the game)
Daily Breeze in LA

(there are at least a dozen more, if you want to read them do a google news search for "grass and ND" and "grass and SC or trojans" and sort by date.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Genocide Again

The level of unawareness and apathy towards the atrocities that are occuring throughout the world are mind boggling to me. So many of my fellow students, professors, and neighbors are simply unaware that hundreds of thousands of people are being systematically murdered. Shedding light on the situation in Darfur, Sudan is one of my main objectives at the moment. I truly believe that if more people know and understand the situation, there may be a greater chance to stop the violence. The following is a brief outline of the history of the conflict, as well as an explanation of why nothing is being done to stop the killings.

Defining Genocide in Darfur

Shortly after the Rwandan genocide ended in 1994 the international community, riddled with guilt for not interceding to stop the slaughter of over a million Tutsis, pledged to let genocide happen “never again.” Unfortunately, the world seems to have forgotten this pledge. Genocide is happening again, not too far from Rwanda in the Darfur region of Sudan. The killings and displacement of thousands of people within Darfur is clearly genocide as outlined in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: deliberate and systematic attacks by the Arab Sudanese government, and militias under orders from the government are purposefully and maliciously bringing death and devastation to millions of non-Arab Africans in the Darfur region. Despite the evidence of massive atrocities occurring in Sudan, the world has sat idly by and done little to bring an end to the killings, rapes, and displacement of over a million people that is taking place in Darfur.

Most of Darfur’s six million people are Muslims, but in recent years, subdivisions between native Africans and outside Arabs within the region have caused tensions to rise. The native Africans are often called zurga or “blacks.”[i] Despite these labels, the physical differences between the non-Arab “blacks” and the Arabs are very difficult to distinguish.[ii] The political climate of Sudan also led to the current genocide because the predominantly Arab government in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, often overlooked the zurga for political positions, giving the jobs to Arabs within Darfur instead.

The tensions were further fueled by the two groups’ competition for fertile land. The Arabs in Darfur tend to be nomadic, herding camels and cattle. The indigenous Africans, on the other hand, are typically farmers. Feuds between the two rival groups escalated as droughts caused the desert to encroach on the rich land. The Sudanese government in Khartoum did little to stop the feuds. Instead of intervening to mediate an agreement between the nomadic Arabs and the Africans leaders in Khartoum generally ignored the Darfur conflicts,[iii] thus causing further animosity between the Arabs and the Africans.

Frustrated by political and economic discrimination, two African rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), carried out attacks against the predominantly Arab government on the morning of April 25, 2003. They targeted a small military base at an airport controlled by the Sudanese government. The result was the destruction of the military installation and airplanes, and the death of over 100 Sudanese soldiers.[iv]

’s president, Omar al-Bashir called for the elimination of the rebellion.[v] In order to have a superior military power over the rebels, President al-Bashir released Arab criminals from prison in exchange for their work in a government sponsored militia—the Janjaweed.[vi] Janjaweed is an Arabic term that roughly translated, means “evil horsemen.” Instead of targeting only the members of the rebel groups SLA and JEM, the black African civilians from tribes closely associated with the rebels were also targeted.[vii] Some members of the Sudanese government deny a connection to the Janjaweed militias, but evidence shows that the militias receive supplies and weapons through the government.

The government in Khatorum, in combination with the Janjaweed militias, plan and execute deliberate and violent attacks against non-Arab Darfurians throughout the region. According to then Secretary of State Colin Powell, evidence shows a “consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities…committed by Janjaweed and government forces against non-Arab villagers.”[viii] The Sudanese government uses aerial bombardments of tribal villages followed by ground attacks carried out by militias to eradicate the non-Arab Darfurians. The aerial assaults are carried out with Antonov aircraft, which have limited technologies. Often the bombs are dropped on villages haphazardly, without specific targets. After the aerial bombardment, the Janjaweed militias often ride into villages on horses and camels to take advantage of the chaotic aftermath. Killing, raping, and looting by the Janjaweed is prevalent after an aerial bombardment.

One reporter flying over Darfur noted that village after village seemed to be destroyed, bombed and burned by the government planes. These scars on the face of the arid terrain testify to the destruction of Darfur and its citizens. Although dozens of villages have been obliterated in the region, other villages seem to remain unscathed. Villages with predominantly Arab populations have remained untouched, and life has a semblance of normalcy in these pockets of Darfur.[ix]

Women are also specifically targeted by the Janjaweed. Evidence of rapes throughout Darfur permeates reports released by several international agencies. Amnesty International estimates that thousands of women and girls have been raped by Janjaweed militia since the conflict began two years ago. Some reports suggest that girls as young as six or eight years old are being exploited by the Janjaweed for sexual purposes. Many women and children have been abducted and forced to work in sexual slavery.[x]

The violence in Darfur cannot be captured in words, photographs, or films. The victims of the brutality will never have the words to help the world understand and know what they experienced. Images of family members killed at the hands of the Janjaweed or villages and homes destroyed by bombs will forever be ingrained in their minds.

Although the United States has termed the atrocities of Darfur “genocide,” other countries and international agencies such as the UN have been slow to follow suit. Countries on the United Nations’ Security Council have used the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to determine whether or not the violence in Darfur constitutes the label “genocide.” Although genocide is defined by the convention, there are no definitive interpretations of each article of the convention. The lack of a single standard and the diverse membership of the Security Council make the labeling of the Darfur violence “genocide” an arduous process.

Article Two of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as an act (or acts) “committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”[xi]. The UN Security Council, the body which determines if genocide is occurring or not, does not agree on the issue of whether or not the killings in Darfur are aimed at destroying the entirety or most of the population of non-Arabs.[xii] Some members of the Security Council believe that the level of violence and the numbers of people killed do not constitute genocide because it is not a large enough portion of the population as a whole.

Although “killing members of the group” is the first component of genocide listed in Article II, the act of genocide is not limited to murder. Genocide can also mean inflicting “serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.”[xiii] The rape of thousands of women and girls by the Janjaweed militia are also a component of genocide because of the severe physical and emotional trauma of the sexual violence. Many women have been disowned by their families because of rape and hundreds of women have been impregnated by Janjaweed militia.

Another component of genocide is “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”[xiv] Many of the victims in Darfur are killed not only by the violent tactics of the Sudanese government and Janjaweed militia, but also by the conditions of life that the conflict has brought about. Thousands die from starvation, thirst, and exposure after they are forced to flee their burning villages and the Janjaweed. Animals have been killed and crops destroyed by the Janjaweed. The Janjaweed have also poisoned the water supply by dumping bodies into wells. Refugees fleeing from Darfur into neighboring Chad are forced to cross the desert that lies between the two countries. Thousands of displaced refugees have died trying to escape from their homeland due to the harsh conditions of the desert.

Although an official death toll for the Darfur conflict does not exist, estimates vary from anywhere between 70,000 and 400,000 people killed and over 1.2 million displaced.[xv] The discrepancies are due in large part to the fact that the Sudanese government has allowed few humanitarian agencies to enter Darfur in order to assess the situation and to estimate the numbers of people killed or displaced.

Based on the fact that one group, non-Arab, “black” Africans,” are being killed or displaced by the Arab government, it is probable that these crimes can be deemed “genocide.” The systematic attacks planned by the Sudanese government and carried out by Arab Janjaweed militias are intended to annihilate an entire people. These attacks will succeed unless the international community can understand that these crimes are genocide and ought to be stopped.

The UN Convention on Genocide has proven that the atrocity and horrible crime of genocide is not easily defined. The lack of a single standard and interpretation of the convention has led to many nations arguing about the numbers of people killed and the intent of the government, rather than actually pursuing an end to the violence. Some members of the UN Security Council, the body responsible for determining if genocide is occurring in Darfur, believe that the total number of people killed does not constitute genocide. This begs the question: how many people must die in order for genocide to be declared?

Darfur has been called today’s “worst humanitarian crisis”[xvi] but little is being done to bring peace and justice to the thousands of victims. The world cannot keep quiet any longer, we must act to save thousands who have little hope left. Thousands are dying while the UN argues over a term as arbitrary as genocide. What is more important: agreeing on a definition or saving a life?

[i] Power, Samantha. Dying in Darfur. The New Yorker, Aug. 30, 2004. Vol. 80 Issue 24 p.56-73, 18p.

[ii] Nordlinger, Jay. About Sudan, The National Review, May 23, 2005. Vol. 57 Issue 9 p.39-42, 4p.

[iii] Power, Samantha. Dying in Darfur. The New Yorker, Aug. 30, 2004. Vol. 80 Issue 24 p.56-73, 18p.

[iv] Power, Samantha. Dying in Darfur. The New Yorker, Aug. 30, 2004. Vol. 80 Issue 24 p.56-73, 18p.

[v] Thomas, Gwynn. Darfur: Not Yet a Genocide? Socialist Standard, Journal of the Socialist Party Sept. 2004.

[vi] Fleeing the Horsemen who Kill for Khartoum. The Economist May 2004, Vol. 371 Issue 8375, p21-23, 3p.

[vii] Straus, Scott. Darfur and the Genocide Debate Foreign Affairs Jan/Feb. 2005 Vol. 34, Issue 1 p 123 133, 12 p.

[viii] Powell, Colin. The Crisis in Darfur Testimony Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sept. 9, 2004.

[ix] Power, Samantha. Dying in Darfur. The New Yorker, Aug. 30, 2004. Vol. 80 Issue 24 p.56-73, 18p.

[x] Amnesty International Report on Sudan. July 19, 200 http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR540762004?open&of=ENG-SDN

[xi] Gellately, Robert & Kiernan, Ben. The Specter of Genocide Cambridge University Press 2003.

[xii] UN Chronicle Sept/Nov. 2004. Vol. 41 Issue 3 p70-71

[xiii] Gellately, Robert & Kiernan, Ben. The Specter of Genocide Cambridge University Press 2003.

[xiv] Gellately, Robert & Kiernan, Ben. The Specter of Genocide Cambridge University Press 2003.

[xv] Darfur’s Real Death Toll, The Washington Post. April 24, 2005, p.B06.

[xvi] Amnesty International Report on Sudan. July 19, 2004. http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR540762004?open&of=ENG-SDN

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dr. McAdams, am I selecting congenial polls now? Three Polls Show Bush Approval Below 40%

About a month ago Dr. McAdams of the Warrior Blog tossed out my entry regarding the significance of Bush's approval rating because he believed the AP/Isos poll, which had President Bush's approval rating at 39%, because it was an outlier.

It is true that the AP/Isos poll at that time was the only poll that was showing President Bush's approval rating below 40%, but rather than disregard it, I believed that the AP/Isos poll was more of an indicator of things to come for the President and for the Republican Party.

At the end of my entry I stated that "President Bush has a very tough road ahead" and as it turns out that road has gotten considerably tougher: Tom Delay has been indicted, the right-wing of the party is in fuming over the Miers nomination, Bill Frist has come under investigation, and the CIA-leak probe is widening its scope.

These events are clearly reflected in the poll numbers released in the last few days:

10/12/05: NBC-WSJ Poll:

Approve: 39% Disapprove: 48%
Right Track: 28%
Prefer Republican Controlled Congress: 39%
Prefer Democratic Controlled Congress: 48%

According to the MSNBC article the "nine-point difference is the largest margin between the parties in the 11 years the NBC/Journal poll has been tracking this question."

AP/ISOS 10/7

Approve: 39% Disapprove: 58%
Right Track: 28%
CBS News Poll

Approve: 37% Disapprove: 58%
Right Track: 26%
Favorable View Toward Democrats: 43% Favorable View Toward Republicans: 37% (In Congress)


Approve: 43% (21% Strongly Approve) disprove: 55% (40% Strongly Disapprove)

While the Rasmussen poll still has Bush above 40% it clearly shows that the tide has turned against Bush when you look at the "strongly approve" and "strongly disapprove".

As I said last time, the road is only going to get tougher for President Bush and the Republican Party as the problems with Delay and Frist are not likely to go away anytime soon and I highly doubt that Miers confirmation hearings will do much to bring the religious right back into the fold. Furthermore, as winter approaches Americans are going to begin to get a sense of how much their heating bills are going to rise, which like the price of gasoline will add more fuel to the fire.

Friday, October 07, 2005

University Should Follow Policy and Make The Annex Smoke-Free

Recently varies viewpoints in the Marquette Tribune have focused attention on whether or not Milwaukee Bars should be made smoke free (see "Chit Chat" and "There are enough bars for everyone"), however, these viewpoints fail to mention the University's own smoking policy and its apparent self-inflicted violation of it with regards to the Marquette-owned Annex on 16th and Wells. It is my belief that a University-owned sports bar that allows smoking not only violates its own stated policies on smoking, but allowing smoking also violates the core Jesuit ideal of cura personalis or "care for the whole person".

The University policy on smoking is pretty clear and is covered by the Office of Residence Life (in the student handbook) and on the facility services website. According to Residence Life, smoking is not permitted in the Residence Halls nor is it permitted within 25 feet of the doors of any residence hall. Additionally, facility services states the following in with regards to policy number "UPP 5-02":

What is the policy:

Smoking is prohibited in all areas of all university
buildings. In addition, smoking is prohibited within 20 feet of all building
entrances. The Office of Student Affairs will publicize specific rules for
smoking in residence halls consistent with this policy and the Wisconsin Clean
Air Act.

It is my contention that The Annex is a university building as it is essentially an additional cafeteria with TVs and a bowling ally in it. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that students have the option, of using their standard meal plan to eat at The Annex during "“Eagle Option" hours. If the University does not allow smoking within the cafeteria in the AMU or in any of the dorm cafeterias, it must also prohibit smoking in The Annex since it is also designated as a similar facility. In addition, student organizations, according to university policy, in order to reserve space at The Annex for official events, must first apply and then get approval through the Office of Student Development. Lastly, the University uses The Annex for a number of official school events, including watch parties for Marquette Athletics, a number of MUSG activities, Parents Weekend, and Little Sibs Weekend. The Annex is without a doubt a university-owned and controlled building that students and the public have access to.

Regardless of this policy, the University is violating its own Jesuit principle of cura personalis, commonly known as "care for the whole person". The University cannot seriously argue that allowing students to be inundated by second-hand smoke is "care for the whole person". Rather, the University should take the lead on providing students with a smoke-free environment to enjoy food, sports, and perhaps a few drinks with friends.

The Annex is currently an underused resource by Marquette students, perhaps making it smoke-free will give it a niche among students that will make it not only thrive, but eventually lead to "smoke-free"nights or self-imposed smoking bans by the other campus-area bars and restaurants as they see that being "smoke-free" is not only good for students but good business as well.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Divisive New Medical Issue


According to the story, innovative vaccines that could potentially protect against herpes and another prominent, cancer-causing sexually transmitted disease are causing a great deal of controversy – because to be effective, both would have to be administered to children around the age of twelve, in order to prevent future infection.

Merck’s new vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) could possibly be submitted to the FDA for review by the end of the year, while Glaxo’s new shot aimed at preventing genital herpes is in the final stages of production. Both of these are predicted to be most effective when given to pre-adolescents.

In the article, it is noted that the conservative Family Research Council issued a statement it was opposed to the shots because they believed that teenagers would see the inoculations as “a license to engage in premarital sex”.

Additionally, Scott Phelps, the executive director of the Abstinence and Marriage Education Partnership, recently wrote that “sexually transmitted diseases in the United States will not be contained by injecting vaccines into pre-adolescents in anticipation of promiscuous behavior.”

Organizations like the Family Research Council and the Abstinence and Marriage Education Partnership are both guilty of being incredibly naïve. Conservative coalitions like these seem to live in fairy-tale worlds where dating only occurs after marriage and everyone is pure and chaste. Unfortunately for them, that isn’t how it is. And we need to take every opportunity to prevent the spread of venereal disease.

Here’s a memo for the Family Research Council – American teenagers don’t need a “license to engage in premarital sex”, because they are by nature rebellious and are going to do it anyways. While some research may show that abstinence education is moderately effective, given human nature, it would be inherently impossible for everyone to practice abstinence until marriage. And denying millions of U.S. citizens the protection from disease just because you want to protect children from a reality that they will eventually have to face is nearly criminal. Hopefully, the FDA isn’t persuaded by such groups and approves and distributes both drugs. Our future may actually depend on it.